By Jan Pease
It’s the season of buying last-minute gifts! If you could give your child or grandchild a gift that would practically guarantee their success in school, what would be a reasonable price to pay? $250.00? $500.00? $10,000.00? The Litchfield Library is in partnership with a national organization, Read Aloud 15 Minutes, which, according to their website, is “working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care.”
What if reading out loud was just a part of everyday activity? What if every family with children or grandchildren made sure that reading aloud is as common as brushing teeth? Can you remember when the campaign to get children to brush their teeth every day was part of life? I remember the 1958 commercial in which a child says, “Look, Ma, no cavities!” In my childhood everyone had fillings in their teeth, even in baby teeth. Now children routinely have perfect checkups.
The Readaloud.org website also states that “ when every child is read aloud to for 15 minutes every day from birth, more children will be ready to learn when they enter kindergarten, more children will have the literacy skills needed to succeed in school, and more children will be prepared for a productive and meaningful life after school.” This is quoted from the Readaloud.org website.
The goal is to engage parents, grandparents, and caregivers in reading aloud 15 minutes a day with children from birth. That seems to be the magic number that helps children be ready to enter kindergarten. Their statistics show that 1 in 3 children aren’t ready for kindergarten. I asked local kindergarten teachers who reassured me that here, with a high percentage of children in preschool programs, it’s about 1 in 4 or 1 in 5. I think we can do better.
Some libraries are part of the 1000 Books before Kindergarten initiative. We are very supportive of that program, but it might seem daunting for parents to keep track of that 1000-book goal. It may be difficult to be consistent in keeping track of that many books. But just like brushing teeth, anyone can make sure that 15 minutes of reading aloud will happen.
If you need a little help, we have parent handouts and reading charts available at the library, or visit readaloud.org and download copies of their handouts and reading charts. It’s free. It’s fun. It’s easy. Just add reading into your routine. Every day.
I agree with Read Aloud that this is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to improve a child’s readiness to read and learn. By making 15 minutes of daily reading aloud the new parenting standard, we will change the face of education in this country. Instead of worrying about the perfect gift or party, please invest your time in your children and grandchildren.